To me, “Duke Nukem 3D” and Christmas are inextricably connected. I can’t think of a cosier, warmer and more nostalgic game to play during the festive season than good old “Duke 3D”.
Fun fact: when I was a kid in the 1990s, I actually loaded up “Duke 3D” on Christmas day one year just to see if Duke would still say his “What are you waiting for? Christmas?” line. He did 🙂
So, imagine my delight when I recently discovered this Christmas-themed level for “Duke Nukem 3D” that was originally released in late 2013.
Running this mod is fairly easy, since it comes with a built-in launcher that uses the “eDuke32” source port. All you need to do is to unzip the download and then copy the “DUKE3D.grp” file from your registered copy of “Duke Nukem 3D” into the unzipped folder and you’re ready to go.
Anyway, let’s take a look at “Duke Nukem Xmas 2014 1.0”:
Duke Nukem Xmas 2014 1.0″ contains a single new leve for “Duke 3D” called “It’s A Wonderful Life”. In this level, Duke has to fight his way through a really awesome alien-infested town during the festive season. It also features custom weapons, dialogue, graphics and music too.
Although the level begins in a fairly linear fashion, with Duke standing next to a stopped train and working his way through a series of caves, the level quickly unfolds into something more non-linear.
One of the really cool things about the beginning of this level is that Duke will actually say an entirely new line of dialogue (that seems to have been spliced together from several other lines of dialogue). If I remember rightly, he says: “Damn, they’re gonna pay for shooting up this train“.
Although the town is relatively small, it looks absolutely spectacular. Everything from the falling snow, to the fairy lights and the old Christmas movie posters really help to give this level a nostalgic 1990s movie Christmas style atmosphere and I love it!
Another interesting feature in this level is that many of the buildings feature teleportation-based doors. Basically, you walk up to the door and press “action” and you’ll be teleported to the building’s interior.
Even though this allows the level designers to make the buildings bigger on the inside and to include multi-storey areas, it also has a few problems too.
The first is that getting into the right position to use the doors can be a somewhat finicky affair where you have to strafe across the door whilst hammering the action button until the teleporter decides to activate.
Not only that, it’s impossible to tell which doors are accessible and which ones aren’t. Whilst this normally wouldn’t be an issue, it can be a problem when you are under heavy fire from groups of monsters.
Plus, when you enter a building, groups of monsters can sometimes have a habit of gathering near the outside of the door- which can often result in an almost instant death when you leave the building later.
The level also includes lots of other cool touches, such as destructible Christmas presents that can give you health or ammo – as well as the occasional sprite or texture that has been borrowed from “Blood” or “Doom”.
As for the gameplay, this level is fairly challenging. Even though the only aliens you will encounter are assault troopers and pig cops, the level’s difficulty is increased quite significantly by the rather limited supplies of ammo and health on offer.
Or, after re-playing the level again, it’s more accurate to say that the amount of easily-accessible health and ammo in this level is fairly low. However, if you look around enough, you can find quite a bit of health and ammo hidden in various parts of the map.
So, unless you go secret-hunting, you will need to use quick thinking, tactics and strategy if you want to get through this level in one piece.
Talking of weapons, this level also includes a new weapon too. The RPG has been replaced with a “firework launcher”. Although this acts just like the RPG, the ammo sprites and explosion effects are significantly different and much cooler.
Musically speaking, this level is pretty cool too. The background music is a jazzy MIDI version of that old 1940s/50s Christmas song that plays during the credits of “Die Hard” (along with “Gremlins”, this is one of my favourite Christmas movies). I can’t remember the title of this song, but it’s really nostalgic and it goes really well with the rest of the level.
All in all, this is a brilliant level which is an absolutely wonderful accompaniment to the festive season. If you’re a 1990s retro gamer, then I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Christmas than with this level. Yes, some features of this level don’t work absolutely perfectly, but it’s still absolutely amazing.
If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get four and a half. Merry Duke-mas everyone 🙂